The nine-day annual event was inaugurated by Sunita Narain, environmentalist and author; Tomasz Kozlowski, ambassador, Delegation of European Union to India; Baldev Bhai Sharma, chairman, National Book Trust and Madhu Ranjan Kumar, joint secretary, ministry of Human Resource Development. Addressing the event through videoconferencing, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said climate change awareness is important as humans have exploited Earth beyond its limits. “We have taken more from the Earth than it could offer. It is about time we realised the importance of awareness,” he said.
Narain also spoke about the effects of climate change and the need for awareness, calling it the ‘biggest threat faced by the poorest of the poor.’ “The Western world is talking and negotiating about environment change, they are holding meetings while here in India, we are witnessing climate change with extreme cold, extreme drought and extreme rains. It is no more an upcoming event, climate change is here. And the worst affected are the poorest people, the farmers, the marginalised. We don’t need to be told about climate change, we are living it,” she said.
Kozlowski also emphasised the role of books in spreading awareness. “The most important aspect of a book fair is the participation for the general public, and with the event’s theme of environment and climate change, we hope to spread the message to as many people as possible. The fair has a very high reputation of creating awareness and bringing change in society. It is a medium to develop cultural ties between India and the European countries,” he said.
With European Union being the Guest of Honour ‘country’ this year, more than 20 European Union countries participated at the event with a delegation of publishers, editors and authors. The EU pavilion also showcased some of the latest publications in English and other European languages along with panel discussions, talks, photo exhibits and cultural performances.
There was a number of interesting events lined up, such as a talk on contemporary polish picture book art; a panel discussion on cooperation opportunities between Indian and Slovenia; presentation of new publications from Hungary; and a discussion between Antoine Gallimard, CEO, Madrigall group, France, and Bipin Shah, CEO, Mapin on publishing in the digital age, among others.
The German participation, represented by German Book Office, New Delhi, focused on promoting Indo-German translations, the contemporary book collection from Germany, and the Books on Tour initiative. One of its goals was to promote the translation of German books to diverse Indian languages. “We invited published translations of German works into Indian languages, and vice-versa, from publishers across the country. These books was a part of our Wall of Translation display,” Prashasti Rastogi, director, GBO New Delhi, said.
Keeping in sync with the theme, GBO also presented a book collection on nature. Total 50 original German titles from 26 publishers and their English translations from 53 publishers in the US, the UK, and the Commonwealth were a part of the feature ‘Books on Tour’. This selection demonstrated the broad range of recent German titles available in English translation.
Like every year, GBO also organised the Globalocal roundtable on how book publishing identifies itself in the political scenario. The talk aimed to bring together publishers, authors and to assess the obstacles there are in creating an inclusive environment, and to think about the way forward.